About the Author:
Aside from reading and writing, Adi is a huge fan of cooking and eating, watching and playing basketball, and listening to music and singing (despite his clear inability to do so).
1. We’re here today to spread the word about your new book Somewhere Over the Sun – so tell us about it: Where did it come from? What’s it about? And why do you think people should read it?
The story’s about Alan, a young, imaginative writer who discovers that the stories he writes are suddenly coming to life. Fueled by Alan’s desire to spread joy as far as it’ll go and encouraged by his loving father, Alan goes on a trip to visit friends and write them happier more literary lives using his new-found ability to turn fiction into reality.
It came, as most of my story ideas do, inexplicably and in the middle of the night. I was about to fall asleep and a sentence-long thought forced me to wake up and turn the computer back on so that I could write the thought down before it died. I typed out the sentence, then forget about it for a few months until it turned into an outline and my journey as a professional writer began. More on that later.
I wrote in my author bio that I hope the book brings readers even a sentence’s worth of happiness, and I want people to read my book because I truly believe that there’s at least a morsel-sized smile for everyone within its pages. Obviously, I’m a bit biased, but so far reviews and reader reactions have confirmed this. I tried to bring life out of the mundane, find happiness where it might go overlooked and I think readers will enjoy seeing Alan’s happy-go-lucky ways of turning fiction into reality.
2. We all come from someplace and we all have life experiences, similar and different to others, but how do these things – where you’re from and what you’ve done- impact the things you write and the way you write them?
Oh boy. Huge question. I doubt there’s a way for me to fully answer this, much less succinctly, but I’ll give it a shot (I apologize in advance for any rambling). Fiction is definitely rooted in life. And even with my natural proclivity to have a colorful imagination, I doubt I’d write anything of interest if it weren’t for the life I’ve lead and continue to live.
That life has affected my writing is a certainty. The question of how is impossible to answer in any all-encompassing way, so here’s just a tiny list of all the ways my life has influenced my writing. If I try to expand upon these, we might be here forever, so I hope these nuggets of myself and my writing are sufficient, even without context: I am a happy person. I grew up in Mexico City, but because I attended an international school called the American School Foundation, I found a home in the English language.
In high school, the way to gain love’s affection that most made sense to me was through words and I failed more than once; in college and since I have succeeded. I’ve moved around a lot and am good at goodbyes. I’ve lived in central California. I cook for the same reason that I write: because once I found out I could, found out that I had the ability to learn and the ability to create something literary delicious or literally delicious, why would I not? (more on that here)
3. Can you tell us about how you came to the realization that you are a writer – the moment when you knew that it wasn’t just a hobby, something you did well, but that it was what you were going to do with your life?
That moment wasn’t a hardheaded, heart-chasing “this is my life’s calling” kind of moment. It came out of surrounding circumstances that kind of forced me into the moment. When I was about to graduate from UNLV with a Business Marketing degree, I had a job in my sights which would pay me to travel and set up fundraising call centers for universities. I was good at fundraising and I love to travel, so it seemed like a great fit. I figured that I’d work for the year my visa made me eligible for and afterward I’d either get sponsored for a more permanent visa or I’d cross that bridge when I got there. Turns out, the company wasn’t very keen on hiring me for just a year, and neither was anyone else so I found myself about to graduate with no fall back option. I didn’t want to go back home to Mexico. And then I remembered that little sentence that I had written down in the middle of the night a few months before. I emailed a friend from high school, asked her if she thought I could make a book out of it and before she had said yes, I began planning my getaway to the California coast to write.
It didn’t even fully hit me until after the book was written and I had moved back to Las Vegas that this was now my career. I have a friend who would introduce me to all his film friends as, Adi, the writer and that’s when it started to sink in.
I always knew I was a writer. But until I was in the thick of it, I didn’t realize I would ever be a writer, if that distinction is clear.
4. Now that you’ve told us how you knew you were going to be a writer, can you share with us some of your biggest literary influences – books or authors? Which writers and works have inspired you and influenced your own style, and why?
In a guest post I wrote (found here) titled “You Are What You Read”, I talked about a file I have saved in my computer of quotations and passages from books that I’ve picked up along the way. I think these snippets, as well as all the song lyrics I’ve memorized along the way, lines from movies, have become a part of me. Even
if I’m misinterpreting them or misunderstanding them, they’re there, shaping the way I see the world simply because they’re offering their opinion.
I read tons of R.L Stine when I was a kid, so I’m sure he influenced me somehow. Probably by leading me to Stephen King, who in turn led me to pretty much everything else. It’s interesting I never became a horror writer. I’ve been reading Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes for ages, and if he hasn’t influenced my writing or general life outlook at all, then he’s at least influenced my physical aspect (Calvin and Hobbes sit quietly at the base of a tree on my leg, forever contemplative).
I once tried to write a story specifically trying to imitate Vonnegut’s style, and I’m sure there’s bits of him in my writing that I’ll never shake free. Bob Dylan and Charlie Kauffman, Palahniuk, John Darnielle, Hemingway. Here’s a list of a few more: Influences.
5. Finally, now that your first book has been written and is being published, what would you say you have learned from the whole process, start-to-finish? Was there anything unexpected or particularly challenging?
Most importantly, I think, is that I found out that I could. Before I wrote Somewhere Over the Sun, I specialized in not finishing short stories. I even had the idea to one day release them in a collection called Never-ending Stories.
I realize now how little I knew about the book publishing process. Even when I was writing the book and researching what to do after it was written, I was pretty clueless. I’ve learned how long it takes to wait on agent responses, I’ve learned that self-publishing companies sometimes stop caring about you after you’ve made your payment, I’ve learned that a publishing contract is not enough for a Special Talents Visa (the immigration lawyer practically laughed at me, “You’re 23? You want a visa because you wrote a book? Did you win a Nobel Prize yet? No? Not gonna happen then.”), I’ve learned that social media sites are crucial for authors’ marketing efforts, but that without positive word of mouth it’s hard to get anywhere. And that even with some positive word of mouth, you still have to do some yelling to be heard.
Thanks for helping me yell, Adam.